Roscoe caps stellar prep coaching career

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Former LHS coach retires

By Robert Howey



Johnny Roscoe, regarded as a Carolinas high school football coaching icon with state championships in both states, is hanging up his coaching whistle and cap.

Roscoe, the former Lancaster High School coach who won state championships at Hartsville High School (S.C.) and Northern Guilford High School (N.C.), retired effective Friday, Feb. 1.

Roscoe, who posted 281 career wins in guiding five different high school programs in the Carolinas, launched his coaching career in 1971 at Berkeley High School (S.C), where he was the Stags’ assistant football coach and head track coach.

He then served as an assistant football coach at Hanahan High School, 1974-75, before launching his career as a high school head football coach at Forbush High School in Yankinville, N.C.

After one season at Forbush, he returned to the Palmetto State where he served one season as the head football coach and athletic director at Bonds-Wilson High School in Charleston.

He moved to his prep alma mater at Hartsville High in 1978 where he built the Red Foxes into a Class AAAA state power. He was 62-21, including the 1981 Class AAAA Div. II state championship.

Roscoe coached one season at Wofford College where he worked under Billy Parker, a Kershaw native and former Andrew Jackson High School head coach.

Roscoe returned to high school coaching in the late winter of 1985 when he was named the head football coach and athletic director at Lancaster High School.

Roscoe led the LHS program from 1985 to 2005, steadily building the Bruins into a Class AAAA football power. He guided LHS to back-to-back state title game appearances in 1989 and 1990. The Bruins won their first-ever Class AAAA Lower State championships during those seasons.

The Bruins’ 1989 state championship game appearance marked Lancaster High’s first trip to the state finals since the 1959 campaign under the legendary Wade Corn. Corn, who coached at LHS from 1951-63, compiled a 95-54-10 record.

In his 21-year head football coaching tenure at LHS - the longest in school history -  Roscoe produced 12 winning seasons and earned 16 playoff bids.

Roscoe’s overall coaching career ranks among the best with active S.C. prep football coaches.

A 42-year coaching veteran, Roscoe’s career includes 35 as a head football coach, 21 at LHS.

His 281 career wins include 134 at Lancaster.

After a year off after retiring at Lancaster High, Roscoe returned to coaching in 2008 at Northern Guilford High School where he built the Nighthawks’ football program from scratch, compiling a 55-6 record in five seasons, including three straight Class 3-AA state championships.

The 2012 Nighthawks fashioned a 15-0 record, including a convincing 64-26 win over N.C. grid power Charlotte Catholic. In what was Roscoe’s final game, Nighthawks’ senior star T.J. Logan, headed to UNC, ran for a state record 510 yards and eight touchdowns. The Nighthawks were 29-1 over Roscoe’s last two seasons at NGHS.

Inducted into the S.C. Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2004, Roscoe also received the Amateur Football Award from the Midlands Chapter of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame the same year.

He coached in the Shrine Bowl, the Carolinas all-star football game, in 2001 (head coach) and 1990 (assistant). Roscoe was the South head coach in the annual North-South All-Star game in1988 and was an assistant in 1981. Each time he served as an all-star game head coach, Roscoe led his team to victory.

The 2001 South Carolina Shrine Bowl 17-0 win - with Roscoe as the S.C. head coach at Rock Hill’s District Three Stadium - earned its place in the charity game’s history as the first to be played in South Carolina.

Roscoe, who won 14 coach of the year honors in S.C., is also a member of the Guilford College Athletic Hall of Fame.